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India imposes curfew on Kashmir on anniversary of Burhan Wani's death

Draconian security measures have been imposed in Indian-controlled Kashmir on the anniversary of the death of a separatist commander. Burhan Wani's death has transformed the nature of Kashmiri resistance to India.

Indian authorities imposed sweeping curfews, cut phone and internet service, and deployed thousands of extra troops across Kashmir as the region braces for mass protests marking the anniversary of a charismatic separatist leader.

Thousands of people have been injured, hundreds blinded by riot control pellets and more than one hundred killed in clashes between protesters and the Indian army since security forces killed Burhan Wani on July 8 last year.

The death of the 23-year-old commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen militant group sparked anger and created a martyr for a new generation of young Muslim Kashmiris.

Read: Kashmiri youth: The new face of violent resistance against Indian rule

Indian security forces have in recent years dealt a series of blows against dozens of militant groups fighting for independence or a merger of the Himalayan territory with Pakistan.

But the government has been challenged over the past year by sustained street action that has changed the nature of the decadeslong conflict. In some cases, villagers who previously refrained from openly supporting rebels out of fear of Indian retribution have started to intervene to protect militants from government raids.

Burhan Wani

Burhan Wani has come to symbolize the Kashmiri resistance against Indian rule

The clampdown has only fueled greater resentment against India in the Muslim majority region.

Separatist leaders - most of them in jail or under house arrest - have called for strikes and protests to mark Wani's death, prompting the Indian government to take drastic measures.

Read: Opinion on Modi's stance on Kashmir

Residents in Kashmir say the restrictions are some of the most severe they have seen, with some reporting they were told they would be shot if they left their homes.

"I have never seen restrictions of this magnitude before," one local resident told AFP.

The road to Wani's home village of Tral in south Kashmir has been cut off. There were reports of many motorbikes at police stations after they were confiscated to prevent people from moving around.

Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan and India since the end of British rule in 1947. The two nuclear-armed states have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed territory that both claim.

India accuses Pakistan of backing Islamist rebels, charges Pakistan denies.

cw/rg (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

 

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